As seen in the Primec booth, from left: Coby Bullington, Kris Redka, Jason Haugen, Doug Martens. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

BISMARCK – Primec Controls (formerly Estevan Meter) expanded into North Dakota in 2021, establishing a shop in Williston. Indeed, the American expansion was one of the primary reasons for the company’s name change.

Estevan-based Primec was one of the exhibitors in the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, which took place in Bismarck May 14-16.  It was one of the few Canadian-based companies, with American operations, exhibiting at the show.

Primec president Doug Martens said the move into the US market has been positive. “We’ve got US partners, so that’s definitely been a positive attribute, in terms of having some previous relationships with clients and suppliers and potential staff members,” he said.

“We’re currently at 10 US staff, and we have seven Canadian staff that complement the US staff,” he explained. Those Canadians work under something known as a E-Visa, a longer-term work visa.

“Our total staff in the USA is about 21 people today including the Canadian employees with visas ”

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“Our businesses are leading with wholesale product sales. We’re doing pressure relieve valve servicing and some instrumentation work. Sensia is on of our primary channel partners. OleumTech is another key supplier. We are an authorized service provider for Profire Combustion. We’re an authorized distributor for Beaumont Manufacturing and Distribution (BMD). And we are a registered pressure relief valve centre with the national board,” he said.

The company’s line offerings in the US include programming, repair, instrumentation, measurement, electrical and combustion.

Asked what the last three years have been like, Martens said, “I would say it’s been an investment in time. We crawled for a while. Now, we’re starting to walk. But we’re not yet running. It hasn’t happened maybe as quickly as I’d hoped, but it’s moving forward positively.”

The move into the US was an effort to diversify outside of Canada, in large part because a federal government here that hasn’t really been very helpful for the Canadian oil and gas industry. To that, Martens said, “Absolutely. (It’s) still our largest identifiable risk, which we maintain a risk registry in our business. Our largest identifiable risk is political risk in our business, solely on the federal side.”

Asked if he expected that might change anytime soon, Martens responded, “I think it may lessen somewhat. Some of the policy that’s been implemented is, in my opinion, not good policy, not conducive to business practice. We’re extremely over regulated, in my opinion.”

As for response at the show, Martens said, “I think we got a few leads. So that’s all we hoped for.”

Overall, Martens says moving into the US has been positive, “but it would have been very daunting to do without having a US partner. For other business owners that are thinking of doing it, it’s not insurmountable, but it would certainly present bigger challenges.”

 

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